You have probably heard rumors regarding layoffs and furloughs from various managers and schools that make the decision seem inevitable. You may have heard threats have been made to union leaders that Rutgers will declare a fiscal emergency and withhold the raises scheduled for July 1.
In the past weeks, the Coalition of Rutgers Unions has met with management in negotiations, fighting to support and protect our members through a proposal that prioritizes employees’ jobs, healthcare, and safety as the University responds to the COVID-19 crisis. This coalition, for the first time, includes all unions at Rutgers negotiating at the same table, representing over 20,000 employees who are keeping the University functioning through the pandemic.
On the economic side, the union proposal seeks to protect the most vulnerable in our workforce, demands shared sacrifice from those at the top levels of administration, and a work share program designed to prevent layoffs.
The calculations for unionized employees include those who would receive full salary replacement through unemployment insurance and, for some at lower salaries, even an increase in compensation by taking advantage of the extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits authorized under the CARES Act.
Our furlough proposal runs to the end of July, when the provisions of the CARES Act are currently scheduled to end. The Coalition is proposing to work with the Department of Labor and Rutgers to create a process for claiming unemployment benefits with minimal delay. As we learn more of those details, the HPAE will help members with that paperwork as needed.
Every day that management delays in implementing our proposal represents dollars lost to the University, even as they continue to claim they are in poor financial shape.
In return for money-saving furloughs, we have made demands, including: no declaration of a fiscal emergency (protecting our raises for July 1), no layoffs for FY21, extending layoff recall time through the hiring freeze, expanded vacation carryover, adequate PPE for all that need it, and union representation in planning a safe re-opening process.
With the savings that we have proposed, Rutgers will be well-prepared financially — throughout the pandemic and beyond — to continue the mission of the University and provide exemplary service to students, staff, community, and all stakeholders in New Jersey.
If negotiations with Rutgers management require any changes to our existing collective bargaining agreement, those changes will be presented to members for ratification. Only union members are entitled to vote. If you are not currently a union member and would like to become one, please fill out the correct form for your local below, or contact a union representative:
Stay safe and well. We will keep you updated as we continue through this historic coalition negotiations progress. Please do not hesitate to reach out to a local representative if you have any concerns related to the University’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, or if you feel you are being asked to work in an unsafe environment (also see our earlier e-mail entitled “COVID-19 – Know Your Rights” for more information).
Ryan Novosielski, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094
Justin O’Hea, Co-President, HPAE Local 5094
Sabrina Brown-Oliver, Vice-President, HPAE Local 5089